Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Food Rules" Redux; New Cookbook; A Fall Recipe

Just for the thought provoking fun of it, I decided it would be useful to occasionally post a Food Rule from Michael Pollan's amazing little book, "Food Rules". I refer to it constantly; love it for its facts, its honesty and its sense of humor.  Lately, I have heard some friends talking about doing this or that fad diet or something called a Fall Cleansing, which is a scary thought all by itself for someone like me.  What troubles me is that people put themselves and their bodies through a lot - without noticeable positive outcomes.

So today's Food Rule:  Avoid food products with the wordoid, "lite" or the terms "low fat" or "nonfat" in their names.   We are far better off eating real food in moderation than binge - eating so called lite food products packed with sugar, salt, and other chemicals.

Finally after days and days of chilly, gray, and wet, today the Sun made an appearance and it seems we all immediately feel a bit better. Look at it this way, those days of gloomy weather helped locally grown - perhaps even your - radishes, arugula, and lettuces get well established.  They like that weather!

I continue to be amazed at the fact that I daily harvest a few sungold tomatoes, a pepper or two and a continuing supply of herbs for cooking.  But the supply is most definitely waning.  Today I finally pulled what I am pretty sure is going to be the last of the beautiful heirloom, "Chocolate Pepper"  from Seed Savers.  A delicious pepper - and a beautiful one.  I believe that I am trying to put off some of the garden prep jobs I should be doing in anticipation of colder weather.  A beautiful, sunny afternoon like today, after a few days of rain, is not helping my procrastination. How is your garden doing?  How are you prepping for the coming cold weather?

At Headhouse Farmers Market recently, we were pleased to meet April White, author of "Philadelphia Chef's Table:  Extraordinary Recipes from The City of Brotherly Love".  This is a great book - an especially great gift idea.  All of the photographs in the book are by Jason Varney - an extraordinary photographer.  Pick up the book and you'll see what I mean.  The book is well done, user friendly, and the side stories are just great.  Highly recommended.

Now is a great time to get pasture raised, hormone and chemical free Lamb from our local ranchers and farmers.  At Fair Food Farmstand last week, we got a lamb shoulder from Sweet Stem Farm (a favorite of ours, a great family owned farm with amazing products).  This is a reasonably priced cut of meat and when cooked correctly is delicious. The following is more technique than recipe.  We did some mashed potatoes and carrots and sauteed greens with it this past Sunday.  It was the perfect thing for a rainy, chilly Fall day.

Recipe:  Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder

Turn your oven up very high - 450 or so.

Rub a 4-5 pound lamb shoulder all over with good extra virgin olive oil; generously salt and pepper the meat.

Lay the shoulder into a high sided roaster on top of several sprigs of fresh rosemary and 3 - 4 large cloves of garlic, unpeeled.

On top of the meat, place more fresh rosemary sprigs and another 3 - 4 large cloves of garlic unpeeled.

Cover the roaster tightly with foil.

Put the roaster into the oven; immediately turn your oven temperature down to 325 degrees.  Leave the lamb alone.  Enjoy the aroma that will fill your home in a few hours.

If it's bone in, leave it in the low oven for about 4 hours.  If it is boneless, 3 hours should do it.

It's done when the meat is just falling apart when touched with a fork.

Let the meat rest on a cutting board, covered with foil and a clean towel over the foil.

Drain off most of the fat from the roaster, place the roaster over medium flame on your stove top and make a roux with a tablespoon of flour and the remaining fat; scrape up the bits and pieces in the bottom of the pan;  stir in 2 cups of hot stock (we used beef, but you can use chicken or veg stock); add two tablespoons of red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer and let the gravy thicken.  Pour the gravy into a gravy boat and serve at the table with the lamb.

It's unbelievably delicious and any left overs will be great with pita bread and Greek yogurt and shredded lettuce for an incredible Gyro sandwich OR heat the meat and gravy together and pour over cheesy polenta OR make a Shepard's pie OR just make hot lamb shoulder sandwiches.  It's all good.


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